There is a lot of jargon involved in this subject: relative and absolute humidity, dew point, humidifier and dehumidifier to name but a few. It can be hard to know whether your strand woven bamboo flooring is at risk. This article will try to explain the technical aspects of humidity as it relates to the correct maintenance of your strand woven bamboo flooring.
There are two ways to measure humidity. They are absolute and relative humidity. Absolute humidity refers to the maximum amount of water air can hold at a specific temperature. Relative humidity is a percentage of the absolute humidity. So for example if the absolute humidity for 15 degrees centigrade is 13 grams of water per cubic meter, then if the relative humidity is 100% that means every cubic meter of air holds 13 grams of water.
Weather forecasts in the USA often give relative humidity data. This can be a bit misleading. For example the relative humidity in London, UK is, on average, 86% in January and 70% in June. These seem really high humidity levels but considering the average temperature in London rarely goes over 22 degrees centigrade there is not much danger posed to your strand woven bamboo flooring or your health.
To put it in simple terms, the warmer the air the more water it can 'hold' because heat means energy and energy is needed to maintain water as a vapor. When the temperature is reduced the water vapor molecules slow down and more and more water vapor turns to water droplets. The critical point is reached when the relative humidity is 100%. This means the air cannot hold any more water. This is called the dew point or saturation point. As the air further cools, the more water vapor that will condense into water.
It is the water in the air which is the biggest problem to your strand woven bamboo flooring. If the flooring is exposed to too much water in the air over time it will swell and warp. The reason spacers are used when installing strand woven bamboo flooring is to allow for a certain amount of swelling. In the opposite scenario, if the air contains too little water than the strand woven bamboo flooring will 'dry out' and shrink. Shrinking causes cracks and damage to your strand woven bamboo flooring.
Manufacturers claim that the best relative humidity for strand woven bamboo flooring is within a range of 30% to 60% relative humidity. As I have mentioned, this is misleading since in London the relative humidity is always over 70%! But that is 70% of cooler weather that can't hold much water. Ignore these figures and use your common sense. If you live in a climate where you sweat a lot in the summer then you have a potential problem with humidity. In the United States it is the southern states that have the highest absolute humidity levels, especially coastal regions like Florida. If you live in Arizona where the landscape is arid and dry then it can be hot but the relative humidity is low. The places with the highest absolute humidity in the world are in Southern and Eastern Asia â cities like Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Manila and Kolkata have air containing high amounts of water.
To prevent damage to your strand woven bamboo flooring from hot and humid weather the best thing you can do is to turn on the air- condition unit. This literally sucks out much of the moisture from the air. Another method is to turn the heating on for a while. This increases the absolute humidity levels and avoids the dew point so the water in the air stays in a vapor form. In effect it dries the air. Another good idea is to use exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen. These fans suck out a lot of the water saturated air. Finally, and most costly, you can buy a dehumidifier unit that allows you to regulate the humidity in a room. Dehumidifiers are the best way to control room humidity but unless you live in a hot or tropical climate probably are not necessary.
If your strand woven bamboo flooring is in a country that suffers more from cold and damp rather than high heat and high absolute humidity, then to keep humidity levels safe for your flooring it is normally fine just to heat the room. However, some people worry that central heating can make a room too dry. In winter humidity levels do drop but not normally dangerously so for either your health or your strand woven bamboo flooring's health. Rather than buy a humidifier you can just open a few windows occasionally to let some outside air containing more moisture to enter the house. Or you can put a kettle on a stove to boil away and add steam to the air.
To summarize, in the summer if you are sweating indoors than the humidity is too high for your strand woven bamboo flooring. Best action is to turn on the air conditioning. In the winter if you are continually heating the house then the humidity can get too low. To combat this ventilate your house or boil a kettle for a few minutes every few hours.